Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Animal, mineral, vegetable

Animal, mineral, vegetable or could it be
a bird

(You should study the green mountains, using
numerous worlds as your standards..Japanese
Zen master Eihei Dogen, 13th c.)

We go inside a Zen mountain
stealthily, as if it’s a room
with no light, no window,
no glassy eye with sky
in the ceiling. We slide
our feet along the bottom
all the way around
its dim space to make sure
we won’t trip. If we reach

with our hands we may
find an unexpected glazed
shelf with tiny bottles
side by side because it’s so hard
to be a boulder. Or melt
into jutting greens. We want
the softest grasses to whisper
like oracles. If we feel a jolt

we stop to clench
our eyes while we wait
for somebody to come
along with a flashlight. Mostly

we hope for a pillow
like a cloud. As if we can sleep
so easily we begin to curve, lift
like peaceful glaciers, float
the mosses in the light.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Arbor

The arbor

Inside a storm
brews up

to darken
our innocence.


to take her
in, lift

her up
into the trees

with us to sing
her heart out

in the branches.
We can’t do it.

Her voice
down there

is too thick. It
twines around

us like vines,
pulls at us

until none of us
can breathe.

All our leaves
are choking.

-- puah

Friday, November 18, 2005

Buddha statues

Buddha statues

If you’re like me you think
of their bellies first, or those
broadly stretched-out eyes staring

over your head. Of course they’re beyond
questions and logic. Their inscrutable
hands rest lightly on their knees

with raised knuckles, thumbs
pressing forefingers so carefully
it’s as if any single desire

of yours or mine is not their problem.
Frankly, those thick fat thighs
and bellies’ bulges

seem beyond ethereal
wisdoms for truth-seekers.
It’s probably better to stare

at a flower somewhere near you
for answers. Yesterday I held
a daffodil so heavy

with yellow its head drooped
between my own thumb
and forefinger. Illogical as any

Buddha it poured lemony color onto
my three other fingers like a spot-
light, like wet butter, maybe even

like a little sun.


You, Me

You, me

( In 1903 the Austrian composer Alban Berg’s opera
Lulu was inspired by Frank Wedekind’s plays Earth Spirit
& Pandora’s Box, with a heroine finally killed off by Jack
the Ripper, wandering through Europe. Before Lulu
so violently she causes wars, suicides, destructions …)

O Lulu, I slipped inside you
so easily. You were my first fun
part, with no billowing wigs. How I stared

through our widening mascara’d eyes.

How I felt your contemptuous
shrugging naked shoulder
my own, your legs criss-crossing
openings inside slitted skirts, my own.

It was you and me against
everybody, just the two of us

carried off in Berg’s possessive, grating
dissonances. We never cried

We dreamed our life shimmering
history cracks for us in smoky wisps
like silk, satin, like slippery sweet, salty
body smells. O, our slides
into honey, our rises to the highest
coloratura’d molasses-
cajoling with the seductive Countess, while all our tenors
& baritones stiffened, melted, groaned
in our arms like weepy
slavish clowns!

Their voices cried out passions
in high-and-low-pitched raging whispers
so loud in our ears we knew
we were queen.

Do you still feel the eyes crawling spidery
all over our skin the way we walked alone
later, night-lonesome on the streets
until the throat-

slasher came to get us?
o Lulu o Lulu o
now I don’t sing your life

anymore. But I remember how
we felt at the end, how we held our breath
inside, all exposed on the darkening stage
in a blaze of light to the roaring, hand-clapping, the Lulu-
mesmerizing mesmerized

wildly murderous crowds.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Peace to everybody II

The quote below is from the Japanese Zen master Eihei Dogen, from "Mountains and Rivers Sutra," in the thirteenth century.

Peace to everybody

So I am here again, feeling very Zen-ish today. How is everybody out there? This is my first visit since last spring. I've been writing, writing ... thought I'd post another opera poem ... it's not very peace-full though, so I'm adding one that's looking for peace and wishing everybody a way towards peace. Just looking to see where it is makes me feel less at war with the world. Here's a nice thought for Shabbat from Jane Hirschfield's essay book Nine Gates:

You should study the green mountains, using numerous worlds as your standards.

Two poems are coming later today. I'm going to shul first.